Quajuan Adams is telling his truth
Courtesy of Chris Swanson
Now, Adams is working as an activist and liaison between his community, Black Lives Matter, and the police. He and Swanson, as well as other community leaders, meet once or twice a week.
“I’m telling my truth and the things that I hear people say that they want. I’m gathering everyone’s ideas and thoughts together. I’m giving people information about when the protests are happening. If you’re talking behind the scenes and you feel like you have answers, then propose them to us – if you think you know better than the person trying to fix the problem, then you have to get off the couch and be a part of the conversation. We have action.”
And what does that action look like?
Goals agreed upon by Adams, Swanson, and other active community members include zero tolerance for unwarranted and aggressive assaultive behavior by police officers, a public registry of police officers that document abusive and unwarranted behavior so that officers cannot simply be rehired to another police force, and, should a police officer be found guilty or responsible for gross negligence and/or deliberately operating outside the performance and protection of their job, that police officer is liable and exempt from immunity from civil litigation.
In the meantime, diverse community boards, not just “people in uniforms and suits,” are being formed and weekly de-escalation meetings are happening. Adams also wants to make sure there are options for kids to keep them out of trouble.
“It shouldn’t be the color of someone’s skin that determines their opportunities, their interest rates, their access to grants and loans. We need more programs in our neighborhoods, even if it’s more trade programs or summer programs for the kids so that kids are not in the streets – we’ve got to give them options, keep them occupied.”
When I ask Adams if he feels his relationship to police has changed, he pauses.
“It’s a hard thing to say. I don’t want to discredit the relationship that Chris and I have now. Honestly, it’s one of those things, should it really have to be publicized like this, should it have had to get this bad, for people to organize and pay attention like this? No. There are still a lot of bad apples, and they need to be filtered out. And police need to be out in the neighborhoods more. Get to know the demographics and mindsets of the people in your community.”
However, what has changed is, “I know now that if I have a concern, I can pick up the phone and say, ‘Chief Swanson, this is an issue,’ or ‘Pastor Hawkins, this is an issue,’ and I’ll be heard.”
Adams is still a humble person, not one who seeks the spotlight. “I’m not the person who I thought was going to speak out. It was an act of humanity for me.”
However, Sheriff Chris Swanson sees it differently: “Had he not said, ‘Walk with us,’ I wouldn’t have said ‘Let’s walk’ and together we wouldn’t have walked. He may not have organized the protest, but Quajuan Adams started the movement.”